Appeals Court Rejects Prosecution Threat In “Sexting” Case


In the the first case to challenge the constitutionality of prosecuting teens for “sexting,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia upheld an injunction that barred a Pennsylvania prosecutor from bringing child pornography charges against girls who refused to attend a class he had designed to educate youths about the dangers of sexting, the Legal Intelligencer reports.

A unanimous three-judge panel concluded there was no probable cause to bring any charges against the girls who had appeared in various states of undress in photos shared among a group of teens. Missing from the prosecutor’s case, the court said, was critical evidence about who exactly had transmitted the images. As a result, the court said, any decision to prosecute the teens after they refused to take the class would therefore be retaliation against them for asserting their First Amendment rights. The panel found that former Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. had violated the rights of parents by usurping their roles. “An individual district attorney may not coerce parents into permitting him to impose on their children his ideas of morality and gender roles,” wrote Judge Thomas Ambro.

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